National leader Simon Bridges says people who are a danger to public safety should have their human rights curbed.
He was commenting on the Government proposal for Firearms Prohibition Orders (FPO), which would target people who have convictions for violent offending, gun crimes or a history of family harm.
Police Minister Stuart Nash released a discussion document on FPOs yesterday, which would prevent people from being around others who have firearms, using them without supervision, or being at a location that enables access to guns.
That would mean someone under an FPO could commit a criminal offence by living in or visiting the home of a family member who legally has firearms at the home, or being in a car with hunting mates who have firearms in the vehicle, or being in the company of a friend who is legally carrying a firearm.
Police could also be able to search the property of someone subject to an FPO without a warrant.
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That has raised human rights concerns including freedom of movement, freedom of association, the presumption of innocence and the right to be free from unreasonable search.
But Bridges said that public safety was more important.
"It's not a question about human rights. It's a question about making sure we're keeping New Zealanders safe," he told reporters this morning.
He pointed to a number of laws and practices including prisoners being denied voting rights, breath-testing drivers for alcohol, and drug-testing for drivers that National supports but the Government is still consulting on.
"Technically they involve breach of the NZ Bill of Rights Act, but sometimes we have to do these things. We want to make sure overall New Zealanders are safe. I think FPOs are definitely in that category."
Bridges and the Government appear to be singing from the same song sheet. Yesterday Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said it was a privilege to be able to come into contact with firearms, and dangerous people should be deprived of that privilege.
The Government has previously rejected a National Party member's bill about FPOs, saying it was too narrowly focused on gangs.
Bridges said he was "very open" to the idea of FPOs for dangerous people, not just gang members.
"We need to make sure we're not getting at law-abiding citizens. We're getting at the crims, the gangs and the extremists."
He said the Government had dragged its feet on FPOs and if it had adopted National's bill, they could have already been in place.
"It's too little too late. They've had two years and all we've got to is another proposal to kind of look at doing something down the track, and that's not good enough.
"We could be through this process and be doing something about the 1400 more patched gang members."
But Nash rejected that.
"The National Party's member's bill just limited this to gangs. That was shown to be
"We think there has to be a history of violent offending and probably a firearms offence and possibly a protection order in place. But, again, in the document we list a range of circumstances and a range of different options, and we are keen to hear what our communities have to say on that and their views."
Feedback can be sent to FPOConsultation@police.govt.nz or via this webpage.